NEW YORK - National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman today released the following statement regarding the passing of Walter Gretzky:
"Although he never skated a shift in the National Hockey League, Walter Gretzky's influence on our League and our game was profound. He embodied all that is great about being a hockey parent. Teaching the game to his children on the famed backyard rink he built in his beloved hometown of Brantford, Ontario, Walter instilled in them not only an uncommon understanding of hockey's essence, but a love and respect for the game that has become synonymous with the name Gretzky, all while ensuring that the game was fun to play.
"Walter reveled in the incomparable exploits of his son Wayne, who never failed to credit his father as his first and most important coach. And Players, Coaches and media members routinely sought Walter's insight throughout Wayne's legendary career. A gentle man and a gentleman, Walter was unfailingly happy to share a story or thought.
"Walter's passion for the game and for teaching it to young players transcended place, status and skill level. During the two decades since Wayne retired, Walter could always be found at a rink, sharing the game with players and fans at all levels. Quietly and humbly, Walter dedicated so much of his time to countless charities with little fanfare but with a deep commitment to improving the lives of so many - particularly children.
"We all will miss Walter and his infectious smile. On behalf of the entire National Hockey League, I extend my deepest sympathies to Wayne and the entire Gretzky family."